The Likeliest Scams to Watch Out for in 2024

Author: Adam Collins

January 11, 2024

As technology continues to advance, so do the tactics employed by scammers looking to exploit unsuspecting individuals. The Global State of Scams 2023 Report, powered by GASA, indicates that over $1.2 trillion was lost to scams in 2023. Staggering, right? This highlights the need for more vigilance as scammers become more sophisticated and, thanks to generative AI, very hard to detect.

In 2024, the digital landscape is fraught with potential threats, and it's crucial to stay vigilant against various scams that can compromise personal information and financial security. 

This article aims to shed light on the likeliest scams to watch out for in 2024, helping readers navigate the evolving landscape of online security. From disaster relief scams to AI-powered schemes, each threat poses its own set of challenges that demand awareness and caution.

Disaster Relief Scams

Humanity often unites to offer support and aid in the wake of natural disasters. Unfortunately, scammers also seize these moments to exploit the generosity of individuals. Whether it's a pandemic or natural calamities like the Japan Earthquake in January 2024, scammers tend to take advantage of this. 

In 2023, we witnessed the tragic Turkey earthquake scams, serving as a poignant reminder of the vulnerability that often accompanies such disasters.

Disaster relief scams masquerade as charitable organizations, preying on the goodwill of those seeking to help the affected. By thinking you're donating to an emergency relief fund, you unwittingly provide credit card or other e-payment information.

Only give to established, legitimate organizations. Visit GuideStar, Charity Navigator, or any other organization you trust, to verify the validity of any charitable organization you are considering supporting before you donate.

AI-Powered Scams

In 2024, Generative AI's meteoric rise isn't just impressive; it's a double-edged sword, exposing consumers to unprecedented risks. Scammers, ever the opportunists, will ride this AI wave, honing their deception skills to new heights. AI-powered scams will now play the role of digital chameleons, using sophisticated algorithms that blur the line between human-like and fraudulent behavior. 

Here are several examples of what to look out for; 

  • AI is taking the lead in crafting convincing phishing emails and texts, skillfully imitating genuine communication, and turning every click into a digital guessing game.
  • AI is generating deepfake videos featuring celebrities, not in Hollywood blockbusters, but in fraudulent ads and schemes aimed at leading victims into false investments.
  • AI will be used to impersonate friends or relatives, executing grandparent/loved one scams that manipulate emotions for money.
  • Scammers exploit AI to pose as employers, extracting personal information from unsuspecting individuals.

Phone Scams

Image source: Pixabay

Phone scams remain a widespread concern in the world of online deception. In these scams, fraudsters make voice calls to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information or losing their money. As technology evolves, scammers use different tricks to exploit trust and create convincing scenarios over the phone. 

Common phone scams include:

  • Impersonation Calls: Scammers pretend to be authoritative figures, such as government officials, law enforcement, or utility providers, instilling fear or urgency to extract information or payments.
  • Caller ID Spoofing: Using technology to manipulate caller ID information, scammers make it appear as if they are calling from a trusted source, increasing the likelihood of victims answering the call.
  • Fake Prize or Sweepstakes Calls: Victims receive calls claiming they have won a prize or lottery, but to claim it, they must provide personal information or pay fees upfront.
  • Tech Support Scams: Scammers pose as tech support agents, convincing individuals that their devices have issues and requesting remote access or payment for unnecessary services.

To guard against phone scams, it's crucial to remain skeptical of unexpected calls, verify the caller's identity independently, and refrain from sharing personal or financial information over the phone.

Text Scams

Just like phone scams, text scams have become increasingly sophisticated and pervasive in exploiting digital communication for deceptive purposes. These scams leverage the immediacy of text messages to trick individuals into divulging personal information or falling for fraudulent schemes.

Source: Which?

Common text scams include:

  • Smishing (SMS Phishing): Fraudsters send deceptive text messages posing as legitimate entities, such as banks or government agencies, to trick recipients into clicking on malicious links or sharing sensitive information.
  • Pharming: Similar to phishing, pharming involves sending texts that redirect recipients to fraudulent websites, aiming to collect login credentials or financial details.
  • Subscription Scams: Victims receive unsolicited text messages claiming they have subscribed to a service, with subsequent charges if they don't opt out, leading to financial losses.
  • Fake Charity Appeals: Scammers exploit the compassion of individuals by sending texts requesting donations for fake charities, preying on goodwill during times of crisis.

Source: Apple

To protect against text scams, it's essential to be cautious of unsolicited messages, avoid clicking on links from unknown sources, and verify the legitimacy of any unexpected requests for personal or financial information.

Phishing Scams

Within the digital realm, phishing scams remain a persistent and cunning threat, employing fraudulent tactics to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information. Unlike phone and text scams that rely on direct communication, phishing operates through seemingly trustworthy emails or messages that lead recipients to fraudulent websites or prompt them to disclose confidential data.

Key characteristics of phishing scams include:

  • Email Spoofing: Scammers manipulate email headers to make messages appear legitimate, often imitating reputable organizations or individuals to gain trust.
  • Fraudulent Links: Phishing emails contain disguised links that, when clicked, redirect users to fraudulent websites designed to collect login credentials or install malicious software.
  • Impersonation: Scammers mimic trusted entities, such as colleagues, friends, or financial institutions, creating a false sense of urgency to prompt recipients into taking immediate action.
  • Spear Phishing: This targeted form of phishing tailors messages to specific individuals or organizations, often using personal information to increase credibility and success rates.

A scammer Impersonating the United Services Automobile Association (USAA)

Romance Scams

In the online world of love, romance scams exploit the trust of those seeking companionship. A particularly disheartening variant involves the notorious "pig butchering" scams, where scammers craft elaborate stories to manipulate victims emotionally and financially. Signs to look out for include "Premature Romantics" – individuals rushing into deep emotions and commitments too quickly. Another red flag is frequent favor requests, especially those involving financial assistance. 

Scammers often weave tales of delayed visits, citing financial setbacks as the reason. It's essential to remain cautious when building online connections and be wary of these signs to protect oneself from falling prey to deceptive romance scams. Read more on our 2024 romance mantra article.

Cryptocurrency Scams

The cryptocurrency boom may not be as prominent as in previous years, but a huge interest remains. Amid this sustained fascination, the looming threat of cryptocurrency scams continues to jeopardize unsuspecting investors. Exploiting the allure of digital currencies, scammers deftly employ deceptive schemes to manipulate individuals. Navigating this landscape demands vigilance, informed decision-making, and careful consideration to thwart these prevalent threats.

In 2024, common cryptocurrency scams may  include:

  • Fake Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs): Scammers will create fraudulent ICOs, enticing investors with promises of high returns on new, non-existent cryptocurrencies.
  • Phishing: Fraudsters will use fake websites and emails to trick users into revealing their cryptocurrency wallet credentials or private keys.
  • Ponzi Schemes: Scammers will lure investors with promises of guaranteed returns, using funds from new investors to pay off earlier backers until the scheme collapses.
  • Impersonation of Exchanges: Scammers will create fake cryptocurrency exchange platforms, tricking users into depositing funds that are never returned.
  • Fake Wallets and Apps: Malicious apps and wallets will deceive users by posing as legitimate tools but are designed to steal cryptocurrency holdings.

Employment Scams

In 2024, the quest for legitimate employment opportunities will be shadowed by the persistent threat of employment scams, encompassing a range of scammy tactics that will prey on job seekers' aspirations. One almost guaranteed form will be work-from-home scams, wherein fraudsters will exploit the growing desire for remote work arrangements.

Work-from-home scams will typically involve:

  • Fake Job Offers: Scammers will pose as legitimate employers, offering enticing job opportunities that will promise high earnings for minimal effort.
  • Payment for Equipment: Victims may be asked to pay upfront for supposed work equipment or training materials, only to discover that the promised job never materializes.
  • Phishing for Personal Information: Fraudsters will request sensitive information under the guise of necessary onboarding processes, putting victims at risk of identity theft.
  • Overpayment Scams: Victims may receive fraudulent checks or payments, with scammers requesting a portion to be returned, leaving the victim responsible for the entire amount when the initial payment bounces. 
  • Money Mule Scams:  some job seekers might fall for money mule scams where they will help criminals move illegal money for them.

To safeguard against employment scams, job seekers will need to be cautious of unsolicited job offers, conduct thorough research on prospective employers, avoid upfront payment requests, and be skeptical of overly lucrative opportunities that seem too good to be true.

Online Shopping Scams

In 2024, the digital shopping cart may not be as innocent as it seems. As you browse the aisles of e-commerce, be on the lookout for some sneaky characters ready to swipe more than just your card details.

Stay wary of:

  • Mirror Mirror, Who's the Fakest of Them All: Scammers will play dress-up as legit online stores, hoping you won't notice the imitation game until it's too late.
  • Phishing Lures in Your Inbox: Emails that seem too good to be true might be phishing for more than just compliments. Click carefully to avoid getting hooked.
  • Bargains or Booby Traps: Not every deal is a steal. Some are just elaborate traps waiting for you to take the bait.
  • Knockoff Wonderland: Enter the rabbit hole of counterfeits where what you ordered is not what you get, and the tea party is replaced by a refund hassle.
  • Facebook Fantasyland: Social media ads, especially on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, can be a breeding ground for too-good-to-be-true products. Don't let the allure of the scroll lead you down a deceptive path.

As you embark on your digital shopping adventure, arm yourself with a keen eye, double-check that virtual cart, and remember: that not every click leads to a treasure; sometimes, it leads to treachery. 

Bottom Line

In the ever-expanding digital landscape of clicks and carts, scams lurk like mischievous shadows. As we chase bargains and navigate the web's alleys, let's remember: Scams are the uninvited guests at the digital feast. They dress up as opportunities, play hide-and-seek in our inboxes, and dance in the shadows of seemingly tempting deals. So, be the savvy navigator of this digital terrain. Trust, but verify. Click, but scrutinize.

In this online realm, being savvy isn't just a skill; it's your secret weapon against the mischievous shadows that thrive on unsuspecting adventurers. Stay wise, stay safe, and may your clicks always lead to genuine treasures.

Image source: Pixabay

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